Three-syllable foot as in bada bing / MON 11-20-17 / Nickname of Gen Burgoyne in American Revolution / Coiner of phrase alternative facts / Indian character on Big Bang Theory / Henry British officer who invented exploding shell

Monday, November 20, 2017

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Challenging (like, off-the-charts, not-even-close-to-normal-Monday Challenging)

THEME: ALLITERATION (18D: What 17-, 33-, 47- and 66-Across exhibit, despite appearances to the contrary) — two-word phrases that alliterate despite starting with different letters:

Theme answers:
  • GENTLEMAN JOHNNY (17A: Nickname of Gen. Burgoyne in the American Revolution)
  • PHOTO FINISH (33A: End of a close race)
  • CAESAR SALAD (47A: Dish made with romaine lettuce, croutons and Parmesan cheese)
  • KELLYANNE CONWAY (66A: Coiner of the phrase "alternative facts") 
Word of the Day: GENTLEMAN JOHNNY (John Burgoyne, 17-Across) —
General John Burgoyne (24 February 1722 – 4 August 1792) was a British army officer, politician and dramatist. He first saw action during the Seven Years' War when he participated in several battles, most notably during the Portugal Campaign of 1762.
John Burgoyne is best known for his role in the American Revolutionary War. He designed an invasion scheme and was appointed to command a force moving south from Canada to split away New England and end the rebellion. Burgoyne advanced from Canada but his slow movement allowed the Americans to concentrate their forces. Instead of coming to his aid according to the overall plan, the British Army in New York City moved south to capture Philadelphia. Surrounded, Burgoyne fought two small battles near Saratoga to break out. Trapped by superior American forces, with no relief in sight, Burgoyne surrendered his entire army of 6,200 men on 17 October 1777. His surrender, says historian Edmund Morgan, "was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory". He and his officers returned to England; the enlisted men became prisoners of war. Burgoyne came under sharp criticism when he returned to London, and never held another active command.
Burgoyne was also an accomplished playwright known for his works such as The Maid of the Oaks and The Heiress, but his plays never reached the fame of his military career. He served as a member of the House of Commons for a number of years, sitting for the seats of Midhurst and Preston. (wikipedia)
• • •

Good editing is the difference between a great experience and an annoying one. So ... how did this puzzle get slotted on Monday? It's absurd. It's at least a Tuesday, possibly a Wednesday. Like, it's not close to Monday. I was over a minute slower than my average Monday time. Since I finish a typical Monday in roughly 2:50, you can see how one minute in this case is a ****ing chasm. Yes, the puzzle is oversized, which accounts for some of the extra time, but dear lord, come on. GENTLEMAN JOHNNY!? What the hell was that? (A: not a Monday theme answer). And your 1-Across is a. 7 letters (?) and b. a highly specialized poetic term? (ANAPEST) I'm cool with all of this, but, you know, Later In The Week. This theme is far too dense and intricate (a revealer intersecting every themer!), and has too many odd words and obscurities, to be a Monday. Dude's been editing for decades and couldn't see this? Mind-blowing. The puzzle is actually well made. But not a Monday not a Monday not even close to a Monday. GENTLEMAN JOHNNY, dear lord...

And even familiar stuff like SHRAPNEL had a nightmarish non-Monday clue (16D: Henry ___, British Army officer who invented the exploding shell). I wasn't even a minute into the puzzle and already—some Revolutionary general I'd never heard of and then a British Army officer? Oof. Mix up the frame of reference a little, please. What the **** is TETCHY? (52A: Irritable). Man that was rough. I think I've seen the word before, but I don't know anyone who uses it ever in any context ever. Wanted HIVES for HONEY (57D: Bees' production). IONA for IONE (I know better than that, dang it!) (64A: Actress Skye). I forgot the horrid lying racist sexual assailant president-enabling (did I leave anything out?) person's name, so that also slowed me down. Experienced the predictable NOVAS v. NOVAE hesitation (29D: Suddenly bright stars). Cute theme, good puzzle—but fatally misplaced on a Monday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:16 AM  

Yeah, tough Mon.!

John Child 12:27 AM  

Ageeed, tough Monday, but faster than my Tuesday average, so not horribly mis-slotted IMO.

Lee Coller 12:30 AM  

Did the acrosses first and found it super easy (despite having the same reaction as Rex on 1-Across). By the time I got to the last one I had only 10 that weren't filled (1,17,20,24,31,33,52,61,66,71) in, plenty to make the down's fall into place.

Unknown 12:42 AM  

Frere of un pere? Wtf Monday

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

But you were OK with the horrid, lying, sexual assault enabling Hillary? PUH-lease

mathgent 12:58 AM  

I'm delighted that Monday puzzles are getting a little harder. I do the puzzle for some fun. I don't care if some novice solvers get scared away.

By the way, this isn't a hard puzzle. It took Rex four minutes to solve it. I count only six uncommon entries.

Pretty easy and yet I enjoyed it. I liked being reminded of what ALLITERATION is and then seeing some uncommon examples. Also happy to see IVORYOWER, GENTLEMANJOHNNY, and MARIACHI.

A neat piece of work by that old pro, Peter Gordon.

Anoa Bob 1:07 AM  

It's a 15X16 grid, so maybe that accounts for some slower Monday solving times for those keeping score.

Remembered SHARPNEL shell from an older puzzle (not NYT) that had it along with Winchester rifle, Gatling gun, Bowie knife and, my favorite, Molotov cocktail.

ALLITERATION not only reveals the theme, it literally ties them together by running vertically through all four. Good stuff.

I wish more Mondays were like this.

Brian B 1:08 AM  

I dunno, this actually took half a minute *less* than common for a Monday. 'course I knew ANAPEST so I was off to a good start. 66D should go away forever.

Johnny 1:17 AM  

This would have been my fastest Monday ever (< 4:09 on iPad) except I filled in the NE completely on downs misspelled DONOR with an "e" which gave me ReSE at 21A. It took me almost a minute to find the mistake.

I liked this puzzle, although it might be a bit much for Monday. Everything still had easy crosses, though.

If Henry SHRAPNEL invented the shell and Thomas Crapper invented the toilet, we should grateful that the telephone was not invented by Alexander Graham Siren.

Ruthie 1:18 AM  

I'm new to solving (about six months in) and had my second-fastest time ever! I came here expecting to find it rated easy, so I'm pleasantly surprised. I didn't know GENTLEMEN JOHNNY or ANAPEST but the crosses helped out a lot, and the rest of the theme answers seemed easier than usual.

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

I came in right around my average Monday time. I see the argument that there was some uncommon Monday fare in here and I think it's important to keep a day for novice solvers, so looking back, I agree with Rex's criticisms. But I'm surprised it didn't show up in my solve time since I didn't know ANAPEST or GENTLEMAN JOHNNY either.

Ignoring the day it ran on, it was a well made puzzle and I enjoyed solving it. Tuesday would likely have been a better day for it, though.

chefwen 2:36 AM  

Didn’t know GENTLEMAN JOHNNY or KELLY ANNE CONWAY have seen ANAPEST before, but the downs were so easy that I zipped right through this pup and thought it was Monday easy. Spent many hours at the old race track, so PHOTO FINISH was a gimme, always a nail biter when betting on a exacta or trifecta. Love a CAESAR SALAD with candied garlic, so good.
Big brothers nickname for me growing up was TETCH, I have no idea why.

Cute puzzle. Onward.

Anonymous 2:39 AM  

I strongly agree with @Ruthie. This is not a difficult puzzle. It’s perfect for a Monday! Enjoyed it. Thanks!


a.corn 2:56 AM  


Passing Shot 5:09 AM  

Came in at just about average time, but Rex is right — this was more difficult than the usual Monday. Fun, though. Thanks, Mr. Collins.

Fells Point Phil 5:16 AM  

Face it Rex, what you really hate are basic history answers. And basic science answers.

evil doug 5:23 AM  

I thought you'd learned, Michael. Sigh. Get ready for the onslaught of anonymous political counterpoints starring the Clintons, Al Franken, ad nauseum....

Which is a shame, because - - Monday or not - - this is an outstanding little exercise. The difficult answers are fairly crossed, there's learning to be had with SCHRAPNEL, Burgoyne, and MHO. Plus lots of sharp imagery in LOST ARTS, IVORY TOWER, DIVOT, HEINIE, LEVEE, CHIA, PETROL....

Just lost Malcolm Young of AC/DC. Not a huge fan, but give credit to his influence and longevity....

Loren Muse Smith 5:30 AM  

First off, this absolutely was not any harder for me than any other Monday. I do all the fill-in-the-blanks first, and maybe that was the trick today. Sure, I didn’t know SHRAPNEL was a guy’s name, but I had that final _ _ PNEL in place and with the clue “exploding shell” – that puppy went in as fast as I could write. So did everything else, even GENTLEMAN JOHNNY, a woe. The one square I slowed down on was the plural for NOVA, but a quick look at the cross, at the romaine parmesan deal, and bam, in went the S.

I noticed the two golf terms, CHIP sitting atop DIVOT – no idea if a chip can result in a divot.

LOST ARTS – darning, rsvp’ing, introducing people

Peter is a man after my heart. This theme. I remember a while back subbing somewhere and alliteration came up. I explained it, and then put phrases on the board to ask whether or not they were alliterative. To be a smarty pants, I included some stuff like


After they fell for them, after they realized the words do not begin with the same sound, we decided we’d call them “eye alliteration.”

Peter was careful not to choose letter pairs that could arguably just be called silent letters. So, say, WRITTEN RECORD or KNITTING NEEDLE wouldn’t be as good. This decision is imo what elevates this to an expert level. Simple, tight, not trying too hard to be cutesy.

And AND AND ALLITERATION crosses every themer, as many have pointed out. Wowser.

Loved it.

Anonymous 5:35 AM  

"The dude" = Will Shortz, whose job wish I'm jealous I don't have.

Lewis 5:37 AM  

Basically, Rex's review of Peter Gordon's 102nd NYT puzzle is "Well made... cute theme... good puzzle". A rare rave.

The puzzle had a current feel not only with Ms. Kellyanne, but also that meeting of TETCHY and HEINIE. Overall, the puzzle IMO was a lovely non-dumbed-down difficult-end-of-Monday offering, and it's good to have these in the mix.

Anonymous 5:43 AM  

Kids - see above blog as an example of snowflakius extremus. It's very ugly in its advanced state. Please recognize early symptoms so you can avoid being a basket case like Mike Sharp.

QuasiMojo 5:52 AM  

I've been to Anapest and Rubella and Dunst and Styes, as well as Ione. We went to all of them on a school trip with my English class.

Couldn't help but think of Malcolm Young from AC/DC who recently died.

'Mazin' Monday!

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

Can someone PUH-LEEZE explain the "pied" answer in Saturday's puzzle? Thanks!!

Eric NC 6:05 AM  

Anon 5:56
Pied as in hit in the face with a pie

BarbieBarbie 6:10 AM  

Hand up for ultra-easy. The more obscure answers were given expository clues, so it was a fair Monday, way preferable to some Moon June Tune thing, and a great and enjoyable puzzle. Neat wordplay. More please.

Anon@5:56, unwritten rule is not to put spoilers from other days in the blog in case people are solving out of order. I’ll go back and add my answer to Saturday’s comments.

BarbieBarbie 6:13 AM  

Or not.

jammon 6:17 AM  

TETCHY? You get to just make sh1t up?

Anonymous 6:20 AM  

I'm going to curl up in the fetal position and listen to a Lena Dunham podcast.

Unknown 6:31 AM  

You use "racist" so has lost any impact.....yawn.

TonySaratoga 6:56 AM  

Great puzzle. Tuesday time for me but not a Wednesday. Misslotted by one day at most. Love having an interesting Monday.

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Just average for me. I pulled ANAPEST out of my wherever and took a moment to enjoy it. The political scene is best discussed on Twitter, where folks can shout at each other ad infinitum.

Robert A. Simon 7:13 AM  

Going forward, I suggest all of you who obsessively keep and then boastfully report your average time for the various days of the week use your last 52 times as the data set to figure your average day-of-the-week result. In financial reporting, this is called Trailing Twelve Months (TTM). Every company has to use it. It gives a much more accurate picture of the current state of a company's health than using Every Result They Ever Had, which wouldn't be fair to a company that started out lousy and got better and would paint a deceivingly rosy picture of a company that started out great and got worse over time.

Let's take Rex's average Monday time for example. He solved 13 Mondays in 2006 (the blog's first year) plus (ignoring those leap years which produced an additional Monday) 520 Mondays over the next ten years plus 45 Mondays for this year before today, for a total of 578 Mondays. Multiply that by his average Monday time of 170 seconds (2:50) which he reported today and you get 98,260 seconds.
Then, add in the 230 seconds it took him to solve today's puzzle and divide by 579 and you get 170.10 seconds. A blip. But let's see what happens when we use TTM to report his result. 51 weeks x 170 seconds plus 230 seconds for today is a nice, round 8,900 seconds. Divide that by 52 and you get 171.15, over a full second's difference.

Since no one knows how all of you figure the results you report (The average of your last 100 weeks? Your last 2? What?), they are meaningless when compared to everybody else's result. Meaningless. So. Starting today, if you want your results to be comparatively accurate--and why else report them?--EVERYBODY has to use the TTM method.

OK? Can you agree to this?

You kind of have to.

Otherwise, the FPC (the Federal Puzzle Commission) will be all over your ass.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Cute theme. I’ll take this as a well-above average Monday offering, with some decidedly un-Monday words (ANAPEST, ONCLE, GENTLEMAN JOHNNY).

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

LMS speaks my mind. After I finished, I was thinking “really easy!” I’m sorry, @Rex, about your precious 30 seconds, but your obsession with time badly distorts your critical skills. LMS got SHRAPNEL off the PNEL — I got it off SHR. Neither one of us had heard of the guy, but c’mon, it’s an exploding shell, for pity sakes. The general was a nickname, so the second element has to be his first name. One or two crosses nails that. Most of the US, to our sorrow, have heard of KELLY ANNE CONWAY. This was not a hard puzzle. Even the revealer should be a piece of cake for a college lit teacher! Despite its easiness, I really enjoyed this puzzle. It must be extra difficult to construct a puzzle that is both easy and inter3sting.

rorosen 7:25 AM  

Robert Simon, you is a hoot! and perhaps a data analyst?

Sydney 7:30 AM  

Beautiful puzzle. Thank you.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

@Johnny 1:17. Crapper was born several hundred years after the invention of the flush toilet. He did patent the floating ballcock, though.

clk 7:52 AM  

TETCHY, TETCHY, Rex. The word (which I have definitely heard and even used myself) fits you to a tee many days.
It’s also applicable to anyone who comes to his blog and then complains about what he chooses to talk about. It would be one thing if this were the NYT-hosted Wordplay blog, but it’s not and our presence here is entirely voluntary. If you don’t think he should be talking politics on a crossword blog, don’t visit. There’s a big difference between arguing with his content and challenging his right to include it. Whew, guess I’m feeling a little TETCHY too.

I thought this was a great puzzle! Definitely within my Monday solve time range. I had no clue about ANAPEST on my initial go but it looked familiar once some crosses fell into place. Same with many other answers.
I liked learning the origin of SHRAPNEL.

@Loren I loved your examples of “eye alliteration” and your analysis of what made this puzzle’s theme so good. You must be a fun teacher.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

You forgot that scumbag's name?
It's Bill.
We call him "slick Willie".
You can imagine what Paula, Juanita, and the rest call him.

Jake Tapper 7:55 AM  

Great puzzle . . . definitely more Tuesday/Wednesday as far as difficulty (although, the longer I do these things, the variance from Monday through Wednesday seems less and less clear...)

My only beef with this puzzle is inclusion of Kellyanne Conway. Thinking of her is categorically NOT the way I like starting off my week. Whatever your political affiliation, can't we all agree that "less is more" when it comes to her?

Unknown 8:00 AM  

Definitely not a Monday puzzle but it was pretty fun! Shout out to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast for being the only reason I’ve heard of Gentleman Johnny.

RooMonster 8:02 AM  

Hey All !
Nice MonPuz. Agree it's cool to have Revealer cross all 4 themers. Again didn't notice the 16 long grid. Funny writeover, oHm-MHO. Palindrome writeover.

@Robet A Simon 7:13
Holy YAK, that's way too much research and analysis! And after all that, you arrived at the same 1 minute slower time Rex stated. Har. Good stuff, though. :-)

No one has used their dirty mind about EATSOUT, figured @evil would be all over that! ;-) Also. LOS TARTS. WELL, OOHS. ;-)


G. Weissman 8:06 AM  

Here’s a great idea: let’s make numbers and random words in French and Spanish a regular part of the NYT crossword so that constructors have 3x as many words from which to choose.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

He could’ve used Robbie Mook but that’s not an alliteration so it wouldn’t have worked, but at least it would’ve kept Mike’s panties from bunching up.

clk 8:08 AM  

@Robert A. Simon. You should take your suggestions to the NYT crossword app developers. My only gauge of my solve times is what the stats tab tells me, which I believe is a cumulative average of all puzzles solved.
I have some grossly inflated times, especially on Sundays when I wander off in the middle of the puzzle to make breakfast without remembering to close the app. Plus, I’ve only recently been able to solve Friday through Sunday without outside help (a milestone I never thought I’d reach!), so there’s lots of googling time and Wikipedia rabbit holes built into my stats for those days. It would be interesting to see some cleaner stats but my fat fingers on my small iPhone screen mean I could never approach Rex’s solve times, even if I knew every answer cold.

Anon 8:20 AM  

TETCHY crossing ONCLE?? wtf, its Monday!

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

@Anonymous 7:52
If the worst you can say about Clinton is he got a little side action, that must mean he was a good President. Tons of Rebuplicans have affairs. They think it's their right. But get pissed off if their woman does it to them.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

I agree it was harder than an average Monday. So much so that after a couple of clues I looked at the date to make sure that I had downloaded the correct puzzle. It took me about 13 minutes which is 3 minutes longer than my average Monday.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

@anon. 8:21 he raped Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey: If that’s what you call “side action” you’ve got serious issues.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

One of the easiest Mondays ever...and fun too. Dunno--so much depends upon one's mental state I find.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

I like to think of Monday’s rule to be “challenging but welcoming for someone who’s never done a crossword before.” By this metric, I agree, it kinda failed. If I had picked up the Times on a Monday because I’d heard that was the best day to see what this crossword thing was all about, I’d probably have been like “not for me”, which would be a shame.

Erica Marcus 8:48 AM  

Oven = cookie cutter? What am I missing?

newspaperguy 8:49 AM  

Great puzzle, slightly (and enjoyably) on the tough side for me. I expect that if I search on-line dictionaries for "tetchy" the definition will be Michael Sharp. Also, see "embittered", "jealous" and "in need of counselling".

Nancy 8:50 AM  

Loved it. And how often do I say that on a Monday? I'm with @mathgent, as I so often am. What's not to like about a Monday that's challenging and stimulating and makes you think? Novice puzzle solvers are not my concern -- there are loads of places to find ridiculously easy puzzles if that's what you want. I get TETCHY when I see Rex go into a fit over his stupid solve times and I think your satire is spot-on, @Robert A. Simon (7:13).

For 66A, I would have much rather seen KATIE COURIC or KATHRYN CROSBY or KAREN CARPENTER. Save KELLY ANNE for the PREVARICATION puzzle, not the ALLITERATION puzzle. There, it might actually be fun to ink her in.

Anne 8:59 AM  

Erica Marcus, my clue for OVEN is cookie cooker.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Much of the fill was not too bad for Monday. TETCHY and ALLITERATION were tough and the theme was way over my head. Never heard of ANAPEST, MOLIERE, LOGE, the alternately spelled HEINIE, MHO, most of the proper nouns. Definitely far from a Monday puzzle. Shame on the editors.

gruffed 9:05 AM  

Rex - take off your watch, you might start enjoying crossword puzzles again. This was an enjoyable, well-constructed fun puzzle, solved in my normal Monday time (10 minutes), but I don't race the clock, just try to make it to the finish.

pmdm 9:06 AM  

clk: It sometimes seems the whole point of this blog is to complain. Take today's write-up for example. While liking the puzzle, instead of musing on what's good about it, the majority of the write-up complains.If the blog master can complain (it's his blog), the solvers who comment here can complain (as long as they are not trolls). Fair enough. And seemingly the point of the blog. (As a side not, even Jeff Chen has a lot of complaints about today's puzzle. Even though he awarded it the POW.)

I thought today's puzzle was easy, similar to a typical Monday puzzle. If I blanked on one of the entries, the cross entry made it clear what letter to fill in. I would not have complained if it had been published on a Tuesday. Perhaps that wold have been better.

Perhaps the real solution to the data problem is to stop timing yourself. Whatever. For me, the puzzle entries are more important than the time it takes to solve the puzzle. But with the emphasis in today's culture on competition, I can see why solving times are important to many. So be it.

One way or the other, the puzzle is an excellent one to start the week off. Hope the remaining puzzles are as good. Perhaps as a Thanksgiving Day gift from Mr. Shortz?

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Fun puzzle but not as much fun as today's WSJ, which is just awesome. I highly recommend.

Wm. C. 9:07 AM  

Sheesh, @Rex. You end with "cute theme, good puzzle," after excoriating it in all the commentary above.

Like others, I agree that it was a bit harder than the typical MonPuz, but what the hey ... I usually don't like MonPuzes because they offer little or no resistance. So I'm GLAD this was a bit more like a TuesPuz!

Two Ponies 9:09 AM  

This puzzle felt like a beautifully wrapped present made just for me.
Mondays have become too easy and this one was exactly right.
Having a theme based on the quirks of our language is just the sort of thing I love.
I nominate this as puzzle of the week even without seeing what's in store for the remaining days.
Did I mention that I liked this?

GHarris 9:23 AM  

A challenging but fairly crossed puzzle is fun no matter what day of the week. Simply fail to understand rants based on timing; if that’s your shtick run races or boil eggs.

Dshawmaine 9:25 AM  

I’m in the easy camp - shorter-than-average time (per stat page) and inferable cluing, so “unknown” people filled in easily. I’m a proud snowflake, so high five Nancy @ 8:50!
Enjoyed this puzzle.

jackj 9:31 AM  

He may seem a bit TETCHY, but when a Will Shortz edited offering slows up his solving time by 40% then, dag nab it, there will be hell to pay and it'll get a classic Rex Parker hissy fit, no matter that the puzzle had a "cute theme" and was a "good puzzle".

(And was arguably one of the best NYT Monday puzzles ever).

Thanks, Peter Gordon; pay the Rex-rant no mind.

What Clinton taught President Donald J. Trump 9:45 AM  

President Clinton and the Pope died on the same day, and due to an administrative mix up, Clinton was sent to heaven and the Pope went to hell. The Pope explained the situation to the devil, he checked out all of the paperwork, and the error was acknowledged. The Pope was told, however, that it would take about 24 hours to fix the problem and correct the error.

The next day, the Pope was called in and the devil said his good-bye as he went off to heaven. On his way up, he met Clinton who was on his way down, and they stopped to chat.

Pope: Sorry about the mix up.
President Clinton: No problem.
I'm really excited about going to heaven.
President Clinton: Why's that?
Pope: All my life I've wanted to meet the Virgin Mary.
President Clinton: You're a day late.

Missy 9:46 AM  

Cookie cooker

Sir Hillary 9:46 AM  

Is @Rex correct in stating that this was quite difficult relative to most Mondays? Yes. Do I give a whit? No, no, no...and again no.

If placement on the wrong day is the price to pay for high-quality puzzle, I will pay it any day the week.

Seeing ACDC in the grid was indeed poignant. I am a huge fan of the band. Their 1974-80 work is absolutely iconic rock ‘n’ roll. Malcolm was the engine that propelled the band, despite his brother getting most of the attention with his schoolboy outfits and on-stage antics. RIP Malcolm Young, whom I slot behind Keith Richards as the second-greatest rhythm guitarist of all time.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

Wow @Rex!!! I finished in my fastest Monday time ever and I thoroughly expected to come here and have you say it was a joke and you finished in 12 seconds. I got GENTLEMAN JOHNNY off of crosses and a bit of guessing. Easy as pumpkin pie for me!! I just found nothing difficult about it and I’m half awake on pain meds.

jberg 9:54 AM  

@Erica Marcus, clue was cookie cooker

Missy 9:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:58 AM  

Iambic goes from short to long.
Trochee sings a different song.
Dactyl goes dancing as light as a feather.
Anapest ...

I can't remember the last line, but I do remember the feet. I learned them in 9th grade. I think I learned Gentleman Johnny in 6th grade, What are you people on a bout? This isn't hifalutin' college larnin'.

I don't remember seeing Burgoyne's grave, but I remember running into a huge monument to General Cornwallis in St. Paul's in London. The plaque went on and on about the great fighting he did in Burma. It did not mention what he did in our colonies.

jberg 10:01 AM  

OOH! ALLITERATION’s artful aid! I loved it, but agree it’s a Wednesday.

However, DNF. I had ___NIE, thought it could be fannie, checked the cross and saw that TouCHY/HEINIE worked, and never noticed the error. I enjoyed it anyway.

mathgent 10:03 AM  

I don't make political comments here and this is not intended to be one. @John Ogrady (6:31): I agree.

cristiano valli 10:21 AM  

I dunno how this could relate with the fact that I'm from Europe and English is my second language, but every time Rex finds something hard, it's when to me it's unusually easier.

first time Monday under 20 min without having to check any spelling. never heard of some stuff, but easily done with the crosses.

and for the first time I got a sound-related theme all by myself!

[I guess it could be because in Italy crossword clues are substantially and conceptually different, and this one seemed more traditional by my standards]

GILL I. 10:29 AM  

Terrific Monday. But I agree with @Rex... especially hard for the beginners. I could applaud this puzzle all day long on a Tuesday.
ALLITERATIONS are killers for the just beginning to learn English set. Why do they do this? Who invented that same consonant sound rule? Medieval Latin?
The LOST ART I miss the most is getting real Christmas cards. What's with this ECard business. I want a real Jesus Christmas card with a long letter telling me how your entire year went and who died.
Just missing two more items in you CAESAR SALAD, Peter Gordon: Raw eggs and anchovies.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Bill Clinton to Kathleen Willey "You better put some ice on that."

relicofthe60s 10:42 AM  

Seemed hard when I was doing it, but finished in a normal Monday time for me, under 7. Nice puzzle.

Roberto 10:52 AM  

Enjoyed it and came in faster than a normal Monday. Especially liked the revealer intersecting each answer relating to it. Very nicely done! With even a perfunctory knowledge of American history Burgoyne, the loser at the battle of Saratoga which was the turning point of the revolution, is not an obscure reference at all.

Problem is Rex has to find a way to take a shot at the NYT puzzle even when it's a well made, fun one like today. He also has to engage in a self indulgent political screed. Whatever. As someone said it's his blog and he can do what're he wants. None of us have to read it

chasklu 10:53 AM  

Crosses at least covered the obscure words. Never heard of Ric Ocasek of cars or Ione Skye;had Iona until corrected by EYED. Had to change COIN to CHIP and NOVAE to NOVAS based on crosses.

Joseph Michael 10:54 AM  

Rex, I agree that this seemed more like a later week puzzle, but you didn't need to spend most of your review carping about it. And not to be TETCHY but I really Do Not Care how many seconds it took you to solve this or any other puzzle.

Anything that highlights the idiosyncracies of the English language is interesting to me. Never thought of CAESAR SALAD or PHOTO FINISH as alliterative.

Could have used a whole lot fewer names, such as MENLO, RAJ, and ITO crossing GENTLEMAN JOHNNY. And KELLY ANNE CONWAY doesn't pass the breakfast test. But overall this was a smart, well-constructed puzzle.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Good puzzle, especially for a Monday!

I wonder if 27A should have been clued differently, since alumni really means male graduates. I don’t mind the use of a generic masculine in most cases. But schools are now, particularly, trying to convince female alumnae to contribute more to fund-raising campaigns. Traditionally with couples the man was more in control of giving, partly because he normally had the higher salary. This changing, and more schools now are coeducational. In earlier periods women would were more likely to give when their husbands died and left them wealthy–then they would give to the “women’s colleges” they had graduated from. Now schools trying to recognize parity and prefer terms such as alumnae/i, keeping two forms in alphabetical order.
The American Historical Association, which bends over backward to be gender neutral and to avoid the generic “he,” –even using the idiotic “they” for a singular pronoun--lists guidelines for abbreviations in articles with *id.* = idem, “the same person” [but correctly “the same man, or the same thing”–the latter irrelevant] for a second reference to an author’s name, even if the name is a woman. I pointed out to them that the correct abbreviation when a woman is ead. for eadem, as would always appear in European publications and anywhere where there is a trace of knowledge of Latin. The AHA ignored my remarks.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Gene 10:59 AM  

I try Mondays and Tuesdays with just the down clues. Don't always succeed. Did so easily with this one. Case closed.

katherine catmull 11:00 AM  

Perhaps TETCHY is southern or western? I've heard it all my life. Hilariously, idiotically, I could not figure out what ALL ITERATION might mean until I got to this blog. (And I'm a writer! I know what ALLITERATION is!)

Rex is the poster boy for TETCHY but for some reason i enjoy it, which is why I come back here.

Masked and Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Solve was kinda tetch and go, for a MonPuz. But, probably about what I'da expected, for a Peter Gordon MonPuz. Cool how the revealer crosses all four other themers. A master constructioneer at work.

staff weeject pick: MHO. Has alliter-bounce-ation: i.e., it also means somethin in reverse [OHM]. Several of these puppies inhabit this puz: RAJ, RAP, SRI, SUP, AVE, etc. Not sure if to count POP.

Average word length is pretty high for a MonPuz, at 5.16. That also tends to make things feistier for a neophyte solver. But for the likes of most of us regulars, it just made the sucker lots more FUN.

Thanx for the feisty phun, Mr. Gordon.
Sorry for yer harrowin nanoseconds overage, @RP.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Doc John 11:29 AM  

Funny, this was one of my fastest Mondays ever.

Rob 11:47 AM  

I acknowledge the heightened difficulty relative to most Mondays, but most Mondays are a snore. There were some tough answers, but always with very gettable crosses. For some reason I thought was Uriah HEAP rather than HEEP, so I needed the web app to tell me I had an error, but everything else went in reasonably smoothly. I liked this, and it's nice to have a coherent theme on a Monday for once.

obertb 11:57 AM  

As usual, Rex doth protest to much. His time was 30% longer than his usual; mine was 10% longer. A little more resistance than a normal Monday, but not that much. I enjoy a challenge any day of the week.

Dick Swart 11:59 AM  

A good brain-starter for a drizzly Mon AM here in the Pacific NW.

Nothing unheard of. 'Gentleman Johnny' is well-known. 'Anapest' is no stranger. The only surprise to me is that 'Shrapnel' is a last name. I wonder of the last name continues in frequent use ... "Hi, I'm Henry Shrapnel reporting for Channel 6" ... oh yeah? I'm Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov reporting for Channel четыре.

Looking forward to Tuesday!

Unknown 11:59 AM  

Faster than my average Monday. My experiences almost never match Rex’s.

Lewis 12:03 PM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Come down hard (4)
2. What you might see the big game on (6)
3. Not just any old (3)
4. Famous password stealer (7)
5. People might profit from it (6)


Bax'N'Nex 12:03 PM  

I always do the acrosses first and then the downs (on the easier puzzle days). May not be the speed solvers way, but that's what I like. So there was no real problems even though I never heard of Gentleman Johnny or Oncle (and took me forever to remember how to spell LEVEE; had "levy" in my head and couldn't get away from the "y" at the end...dumb. Funny how the mind works)

And if they didn't see my post at day's end yesterday, thank you to Suzie Q and kitshef for the explanation of the "@" preceding names. Appreciate you both taking the time.

Ok, going to listen to some Zeppelin..."When the LEVY breaks"

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

A definition from The Urban Dictionary:

“Poor Sport:”. A person who becomes unnecessarily emotional after being defeated at some sort of contest, regardless of the contest’s significance. Also could be described as a baby.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Had to bleach my eyes at 66A.

Hartley70 12:12 PM  

Well if TETCHY is southern or western, @Katherine Catmull, it's also Northeastern as well. It's just something a bit of a geezer would say in my family. Oh wait, I am a geezer in my family now!

I agree with everyone who said this was an appropriately easy and interesting Monday puzzle. It's what a NYT puzzle should be.

@mathgent, you're killing me here. Great post!

@Gill I, given the choice, I prefer the Christmas letters where every child this year is a genius or Olympic athlete and the family took 5 star excursions to the Amazon and Himalayas. A roll call of the dearly departed doesn't fit the merry theme. Is this part of the Christmas experience for seniors? If so, I'm spending the holidays far from the postman. Hawaii, anyone?

CJG 12:14 PM  

Having worked my way from the bottom and seen the KellyAnnConway answer, am I the only person who thought the answer to 35 Down was going to be Trumptower?

Carola 12:18 PM  

Add me to the "really liked it" group. The theme kept me guessing for a while - after the General and the exploding shell, I thought perhaps we were remembering a war-related date; ALLITERATION proving me wrong was a delightful surprise. Thanks to those who pointed out that it joins all four examples. And there were soo many choice grid morsels to savor, from ANAPEST to MARIACHI to MOLIERE. And Henry SHRAPNEL! I had no idea.

I liked how ANAPEST was followed by two examples in the first line: MRI and DDS,. However, in the theme answers dactyls and trochees appear in a nicely parallel fashion: one each for the longer ones: GENTLEMAN JOHNNY and KELLY ANNE CONWAY and two trochees for the shorter PHOTO FINISH and CAESAR SALAD. Evidently, for Peter Gordon, scansion isn't a LOST ART. Anyway, for me this was an added pleasure to the ALLITERATION (a stretch, I know).

OISK 12:29 PM  

Really enjoyed finding out that Shrapnel was someone's name! Not so interested in Mr. Ocasek of The Cars. (that's actually a rock group? really? When they get older do they become "The Jalopies"? ) Gentleman Johnny was the first thing I filled in. Surely anyone who has ever seen "The Devil's Disciple" (GB Shaw) would know that. Fine film version had Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

Response of one of my friends to a little poem I wrote with that Bada BING meter, "You are a gentleman, anapest."

I didn't think "tetchy" was a real word, but dialect gets in these days. However, i don't understand the objection of some to the cross with "Oncle,"...It was ONCL _ crossing T_TCHY. Frere and Pere, ( with the accents, he added gravely...) should be familiar enough for anyone to figure out that the answer had to be the French word for uncle.......

I liked the puzzle, and thought it was Monday-easy.

Doug 12:37 PM  

I got Burgoyne right away; solvers of a certain age remember their high school history. I needed a lot of crosses to get Shrapnel, however. I thought this was easy. Finished fast and I'm a M, T, W, sometimes Th solver and then I'm toast. So it's hard to understand why so many people had trouble with this puzzle.

RooMonster 1:01 PM  

@OISK 12:29
LOL! They must be The Jalopies by now, because it is an old band! Popular 80's to early 90's.

Glad to see you back. I start getting the shakes if I don't get to read your awesome ramblings! Oh, and did you see the ?? clue a few days ago? It has started... :-)


File as fog 1:04 PM  

Go en the difficulty of the rest of the puzzle, should have gone all out and clued it frère d’un père

File as fog 1:08 PM  

Without referring to a dictionary, I suspect that this is one of those chiefly British usage words. Being British once, I know the word, but would be far more likely to say testy these days

File as fog 1:18 PM  

Excellent suggestion!

I also suffer from fat finger trouble that slows me down horribly. To make matters worse I have a tremor too. Maybe the app developers could take into account the number of times we have to correct our spelling of an answer before moving on to the next clue. And show our estimated and total times.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

My Revolutionary War education being sadly neglected, I was expecting a GENTLEMAN JOHaNs, (not being in the know on the theme at that point) so JOHNNY Burgoyne seemed a bit off to me. But an interesting thing to learn and on a Monday to boot.

@Robert. A. Simon, I enjoyed your analysis of @Rex's performance and your TTM suggestion. I guess I will have to start plotting my solve times in Excel :-). One of the graph features allows one to put in a trend line, and if I choose a 12 period moving average, it should do the trick. The trend lines really do help show the true picture of progress over time.

@Nancy, PREVARICATION puzzle, good one.

Thanks, Peter Gordon, this puzzle didn't make me TETCHY in the least!

Masked and Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Just gettin caught up on a backlog of NYTPuzs. Sooo …

@Lewis: M&A fave clue from last week:

See ??-Across (9)

(yo, @Roo. yep.)


"The Future Is A-packin Its Bags"

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

It is your right to be as obsessed with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as Mr. Trump clearly is. But, if you are claiming that the lies of Hillary Clinton could possibly compare to the number and magnitude of Trump and his spokespersons, you need a reality check. No President or his spokespersons have lied about all things both big and small the way the Trump Administration has. If that doesn't bother you, that's fine. But, Hillary, whom I have never been a fan of, is not in the same universe as Trump, Conway et al when it comes to telling lies on a regular basis.

There is no defense for Hillary's backing her husband over his horrific sexual history. If you had just come back at Rex for that part of it, you might have some firm ground to stand on. But, even that ground got a little soft when Mr. Trump, who, with his history, should forever keep his mouth shut about such things, couldn't resist going after Mr. Franken for his bad behaviors. It seems Trump just cannot stop himself.

BTW, the latest revelation that Trump is worth 1/3 or so of what he has claimed in recent years must be making him climb the walls. Sad.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Hillary would lie even it was more advantageous for her to tell the truth.

Masked and Anonymous 2:37 PM  


ooOOoops … almost forgot...
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue [Just in case any of y'all have an office pool goin on it]:

30-A. {Sound after snap and crackle} = POP.

There are some other very nice moo-cow with a capital moo clues, tho. Honrable mentionins to:
{Bullring cheer} = OLE. [Not as much pop as 30-A, tho]
{"Drove my Chevy to the ___…" ("American Pie" lyric)} = LEVEE. [But the levee was dry.]


Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Glenn Thrush's appearance on MSNBC tonight has been cancelled.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

Yes it has. But, Roy Moore's name is still on the ballot in Alabama and Trump is still President. Your point?

F. 3:14 PM  

Some of us (me) have room in our hearts to despise Kelly Anne AND Hillary.

Warren Howie Hughes 4:35 PM  

Just let Burgoyne's be Burgoyne's!

I may be stupid, but I'm President 4:37 PM  

That's right. I'm still President... War, I want War...
Oh, sorry about that.

Joe Dipinto 4:39 PM  

I like a challenging Monday, and this fit the bill. I only wish MICROWAVE and CAMERA could have been worked into the grid somehow.

Warren Howie Hughes 4:44 PM  

Simon (Robt. A.) made it all sound very rather Simple!?

Warren Howie Hughes 4:54 PM  

Bird has it that Thrush "treeted" that he had to cancel his appearance on MSNBC tonight, because he couldn't go out on the limb. heh heh heh

puzzlehoarder 5:05 PM  

I don't understand how this puzzle could have been considered challenging. ANAPEST required quite a few crosses but it was clear sailing after that.

As a school kid I made up the mnemonic "Johnny Burgoyne the man with the burr in his groin" and it's,well, stuck with me ever since. The GENTLEMAN part came from the puzzle. That's the trick to mnemonics, the more puerile more potent.

Speaking of ALITERATION, when that entry lit up all those crosses I thought why even waste a moment guessing? The fill was so easy the theme was irrelevant.

I never knew SHRAPNEL was a name but with the S and the H in place I just threw it in as most everything else was slam dunk material. Speaking of slam dunk, I had so many of the crosses that I never had to read the clues for CAESARSALAD or PHOTOFINISH. They're common phrases and easy to recognize from partials.

The ultimate proof of this puzzle being easy was that I did in average Monday time for an on paper solve but using my phone. As I've pointed out many times the phone slows me down.

Despite its easiness this was a beautifully constructed puzzle and a fun solve.

Jofried 5:54 PM  

I thought it was challenging for a Monday. It’s rare for there to be anything that feels obscure to me on a Monday, but I’ve never heard the word ANAPEST before. After I filled in the last square I was waiting for the error message because I was so sure that ANAPEST was wrong. That sort of thing never happens to me on a Monday!

If there was a blog about crosswords and the writer of the blog was a staunch Conservative who loved Trump I simply wouldn’t read that I can’t quite understand these people who choose to pass the time writing ridiculous political stuff on this page. Really, why bother? I just don’t get it. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?

Airymom 6:12 PM  

Tetch? Really? In my neighborhood the correct answer would have been kvetch!

Dave Hogg 6:19 PM  

That's interesting, because I had my second-fastest time for a Monday. I'm never going to post super-fast times because of the tremor in my hands, but by the time I did the acrosses and the downs once each, I had 95 percent of the puzzle filled. I still probably lost 30 seconds to a typo in the revealer. I had zero idea on ANAPEST, but did happen to know GENTLEMAN JOHNNY.

Girish 6:38 PM  

@Jofried 5:54 PM Hey, Joe! �� I thought it was the most enjoyable Monday of the year although closer to a Tuesday, timewise (having an English Lit degree helped with anapest.) And I wholeheartedly agree
that the time might be more usefully spent discussing the etymology of words and phrases,
trying to communicate rather than spouting spite.

Girish 6:40 PM  

does everyone seem a tetch touchy today? 😬

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Waa, Waa, I'm a snowflake.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

Tetchy as in Michael Sharp is constantly tetchy, especially when he sees any reference that has any association with our president. Sad.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

The clue for Kellyanne Conway SHOULD have been "First woman in history to chair a winning presidential campaign." But, NO, even in the stupid crossword the NYT has to take their snarky little shots, don't they?

BTW, the answer to "Horrid lying racist sexual assailant president-enabling person" is H-I-L-L-A-R-Y-C-L-I-N-T-O-N. And, yes, you did leave a few things out - namely, corrupt and treasonous.

Hal 7:13 PM  

Google's Ngram viewer shows TETCHY as being rare, but in relatively the same amount of usage since 1940. A search of the NYT archives shows 6 articles where it's been used, this year.

Hal 7:17 PM  

General principle: if a word is in use in the paper, it's fair game. Check the archives first. If the word is so antiquated even the paper doesn't use any more, the complaint is legit, but otherwise... (shrug)

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

Charlie Rose won't be appearing on Colbert tonight.

Hal 7:22 PM  

Even ANAPEST has been used in the paper 3 times since 2014.

Eloise 7:26 PM  

Rex, how are you a college professor in the liberal arts with these gaping holes in your knowledge? You never heard of General Burgoyne? You never heard the word "tetchy"? Sometimes you seem like an idiot savant....

Joe 7:30 PM  

Who cares what day of the week the puzzle is slotted on? I solved it, I enoyed it. On to Tuesday.

Hal 7:31 PM  

You might not believe this, but once upon a time many American schools had foreign language requirements. Sometimes in high school, more frequently in college. High school level French, Spanish, Latin... all would be fair game.

Hal 7:35 PM  

And I've been solving for less than a year, but I've noticed many French and Spanish words go by. (We'll know a sea change has happened when pinyin romanizations of Mandarin start up.)

Joe Dipinto 8:26 PM  

@Anon 7:07 -- "First idiot in history to chair an even bigger idiot's winning presidential campaign." Fixed that for you.

Adam 9:56 PM  

I didn’t know ANAPEST, but I just shrugged and moved on. Got ALLITERATION with 2 letters and realized it was going to be two-word phrases with the same sound and different spelling. Tore through the rest of it - I got GENTLEMAN JOHNNY and SHRAPNEL from the crosses, but overall I thought it was a well constructed, fun, solid Monday.

Z 10:05 PM  

Crosswords and Football. Who Knew?

BTW - agree with Rex, not a Monday puzzle, although the south isn’t as out of place as the north.

nick strauss 12:25 AM  


Anonymous 2:08 AM  

I dunno. Was one of my faster Monday's. Still 2 minutes slower than Rex.. I can't even type that fast. At any rate, I liked this puzzle.

abalani500 2:57 PM  

Lead the way

Girish 7:32 PM  

@Anonymous 6:50 PM And a drip? Evidently, in modern terminology, the far right casts any possible left leaning as weak and sensitive, like a snowflake.
A blanket description as a perjorative term.

Anonymous 3:20 AM  

Thanks for the clarification of the unwritten rule.

Anonymous 3:21 AM  

Thanks a lot!

The Bard 8:52 AM  

DUCHESS OF YORK: No, by the holy rood, thou know'st it well,
Thou camest on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burthen was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild, and furious,
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous,
Thy age confirm'd, proud, subdued, bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred:
What comfortable hour canst thou name,
That ever graced me in thy company?

King Richard III, Act IV, scene IV

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

Ho ho ho and a merrrrrry Christmas, syndilanders!

Ah, our fearless leader: such a slave to the stopwatch. Can't admit to actually LIKING a puzzle, so he scolds it for holding his feet to the fire for a few extra seconds. What a life! Nobody's day is THAT full!

I liked this puzzle, with its uncharacteristically long answers for a Monday and surprisingly little fill "SHRAPNEL." True, there's a RRN, but that's about it. I like the DOOK factor of LOSTARTS: "Fruit-filled churros?" Or, "Diet breakfasts?"

Going clockwise from the NW (!), I did the SE before getting to the SW. Had no idea who Ms. CONWAY is, but to fit the theme her name had to start with K, end in -NE, and have nine letters: ergo, KatheriNE. That caused a mess, but was little trouble fixing.

@LMS: It depends how you define a "CHIP." A small sweeping stroke from just off the green certainly shouldn't cause a DIVOT, but if we expand the term to cover pitch shots from, say, 90 yards out or so, then sure--often a big one. Mr. Gordon has played this hole well, so he gets a birdie. Maybe he made a DIVOT, maybe not.

IONE Skye wins DOD, and not by a PHOTOFINISH. As for the Fearless One: don't be so TETCHY: come down from that IVORYTOWER. And have a happy holiday with the rest of us.

Burma Shave 12:47 PM  


WELL, when POSSIBLE, is fun to SAY
in an ARENA RALLY if you ACT like Donny's


rondo 1:06 PM  

WELL, I for one, don't mind a little higher difficulty factor on Monday, especially when WEL done. I can't SAY it affected my time much.

Uriah HEEP.Easy Livin'. Nuff said there.

As for ACDC, Malcolm will be missed.

Another OLE and no Sven.

What a HONEY in Kirsten DUNST. Yeah baby.

Nice Mon-puz. A roast in the OVEN, nobody here EATSOUT on Christmas. A merry one to all.

Diana, LIW 2:04 PM  

A fine gift for Christmas. I'm playing catch up - got Sunday's done in the evening.

Who knew about Gen. B? Cool fact.

Today we EATSOUT - but will not repeat the turkey-day fiasco. Not going for a PHOTOFINISH, we'll slowly, from the CAESARSALAD to the YAK, or whatever the carving station has. Then we'll come home and exchange CHIA pets. Not.

Merry Christmas all!

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 3:45 PM  

Yes, and unusually resistant (MHO?) Monday. And a good one.

CHIA, MAKOS, HEINIE. RAJ. Had to pause and get some crosses.

Revealer and crosses helped with GENTLEMANJOHNNY who might have gotten some SHRAPNEL in his HEINIE. Again, some crosses, thank you.

Merry Christmas, syndies, and as Tiny Tim said, "God help us...", er...I mean, "God bless us all!"

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

I can’t believe Rex never heard of Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, especially having lived in NY for years. Guess he was cutting U. S. History class the day they covered the Revolutionary War.

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